Author Topic: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H  (Read 766 times)

Offline Rotten Johnny

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Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« on: January 20, 2017, 10:10:23 PM »
The Audiomat Tempo 2.8 arrived this morning courtesy of Achim / 13hof whilst I was out collecting some furniture.

Searching the web it's apparently a 3,700 DAC.  It's of diminutive stature, but with a separate power supply that weighs a ton (collectively about same footprint as the typical Bel Canto DAC).   Unlike the Bel Canto who's power connector I recall being plastic, the Audiomat's power connector is metal which gives me some comfort that it's robust and unlikely to present issues down the road, something that was a bit of a detractor for me when considering a Bel Canto some time back.

The Tempo is single ended so I used the opportunity to connect it to  the same inputs on my preamp using the same interconnects I'd used with the LampizatOr Atlantic.  It's also located on the same shelf, in pretty much the same place as the Lampi was, right next to my WAP (which Audiomat specifically suggests should be avoided, but I'm curious as to whether the WAP will prove problematic).



In any event, hooking it up to Roon using the same ODROID-C2 as transport and same stock USB2.0 certified USB cable it's readily seen by Roon.  Like the Lampi, it uses the Amanero USB chipset and reports as Combo384 Amanero.   DAC manufacturers really should shell out the few shekels required to custom brand the USB firmware, it's a finishing touch but also makes the DAC easily identifiable attached to any PC or SOC device.





Anyhow, I can't volume match directly as the Tempo has no volume pot or inbuilt digital volume control so I resort to digital attenuation of the stream sent to the Tempo, dropping 3dB is definitely not going to affect the stream sent to the Tempo. Roon makes it so damned easy.

Time to do some listening... first off, everything just works as expected straight off the bat.  No noise, no fiddling, no nothing...just music.

It's late so I decide to forgo any comparative listening for the time being and just listen to an album or two via to the Tempo.  As I sit and write this I've already listened to a 2CD Leonard Cohen tribute album called "We Love You Mr. Cohen". I know the songs, but save one or two that have appeared elsewhere I've never heard these renditions.  It's a really enjoyable listen and includes artists like Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Madeleine Peyroux, Chris Botti, Judy Collins and Leonard's son Adam.



Next up I've got Al Stewart queued:


It's midnight and I'm really enjoying the music.  I'm torn between opening a bottle of Jack and enjoying a shot or three, and getting some shut eye.  Not sure which way it's going to go yet, but tomorrow I'll queue some Marianne Thorsen, Vassilis Tsabropoulos, Anja Lechner, Keith Jarrett and a few others to do a little flipping between the Tempo and the Yggy.

My impressions so far...this is a very musical DAC and a pleasure to listen through. It has great tonality, there's no hint of fatigue and vocals sound great. The short guitar solo at around 2:40 in time passages is sublime.  I've no idea what topology this DAC uses, but I like what I'm hearing.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2017, 08:04:42 AM by Rotten Johnny »
Audiophile: There is almost no other group that prides themselves more on wasting good money on utterly worthless ****, and then trying to furiously blow smoke up their own ass to justify it.

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.

Offline Phase

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2017, 03:06:04 AM »
It's morning :popcorn:.

Offline Rotten Johnny

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2017, 12:26:03 PM »
and I've yet to get started...
Audiophile: There is almost no other group that prides themselves more on wasting good money on utterly worthless ****, and then trying to furiously blow smoke up their own ass to justify it.

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.

Offline Phase

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2017, 01:10:38 PM »
It's afternoon :popcorn:.

Offline Rotten Johnny

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2017, 01:11:41 PM »
And I'm not home...
Audiophile: There is almost no other group that prides themselves more on wasting good money on utterly worthless ****, and then trying to furiously blow smoke up their own ass to justify it.

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.

Offline vleisman

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2017, 01:13:30 PM »
I've just spent a couple of hours listening to some pretty exotic stuff, including a bunch of DACs - Yggdrasul, Audiomat and Modi multibit. There was a Nuprime and a Vivere but they didn't get to play. I think we ended up listening to the Yggi most of the time, Catherine and I were enjoying the music too much to actually care. RJ, your system is SOUNDING GREAT (tm Phase  :giggle:)

Offline Phase

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2017, 01:25:41 PM »
I've just spent a couple of hours listening to some pretty exotic stuff, including a bunch of DACs - Yggdrasul, Audiomat and Modi multibit. There was a Nuprime and a Vivere but they didn't get to play. I think we ended up listening to the Yggi most of the time, Catherine and I were enjoying the music too much to actually care. RJ, your system is SOUNDING GREAT (tm Phase  :giggle:)

Don't you dare use those CAPITAL letters here!

Offline Nidri

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2017, 02:22:50 PM »
RJ, your system is SOUNDING GREAT (tm Phase  :giggle:)

Agreed.
Only had a very brief listen to some Neil Finn today (thanks RJ),
but it was enough to reset my expectations of what is possible.
That ATC setup is on a higher level.

Offline Rotten Johnny

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2017, 06:08:00 PM »
Now I have time to listen we're in the midst of a thunderstorm.  Achim snuck in a NuPrime DAC-10H so I've added it to the mix volume matched it using DSP and with a bit of luck l be able to do some listening tonight.  I'm keen to get the Vivere in the mix too as it's an earlier generation Sabre chip, but voiced better than any delta sigma I've heard to date.  Problem is I only have two balanced inputs, so at some point I'll swap out the Yggy and have a listen to the Vivere alongside the DAC-10.
Audiophile: There is almost no other group that prides themselves more on wasting good money on utterly worthless ****, and then trying to furiously blow smoke up their own ass to justify it.

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.

Offline gavinbirss

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2017, 08:59:54 PM »
Now I have time to listen we're in the midst of a thunderstorm.  Achim snuck in a NuPrime DAC-10H so I've added it to the mix volume matched it using DSP and with a bit of luck l be able to do some listening tonight.  I'm keen to get the Vivere in the mix too as it's an earlier generation Sabre chip, but voiced better than any delta sigma I've heard to date.  Problem is I only have two balanced inputs, so at some point I'll swap out the Yggy and have a listen to the Vivere alongside the DAC-10.

Try Vivere in SE in the meantime?

Offline Rotten Johnny

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2017, 08:17:59 AM »
Bloody hell this is hard!  I could live with any of these DACs. All are musical, all are detailed and the differences between them are pretty subtle.  Picking them apart requires careful listening to specific pieces of music or spending a lot of time with each and coming to appreciate its characteristics.  Speed dating isn't my thing, but time is not on my side so I'm left with little choice.

General impressions:
The Yggy and Audiomat have quite a similar sound but the Audiomat strikes me as a little more stident whereas the Yggy comes off more refined and controlled.  I've no idea what topology the Audiomat is but my guess is it's R2R. If it's delta-sigma it's the best implementation I've heard to date.  The Vivere and NuPrime also (unsurprisingly given their heritage) sound similar.  Both have a sharper presentation I ascribe to delta-sigma, however, neither are bright or fatiguing to listen to and their sharpness only comes to the fore when switching from the Yggy or Audiomat. I find the NuPrime has a little more of the sharpness than the Vivere.

Listening for specifics:
Cello and piano: Vassilis Tsabropoulos & Anja Lechner - Melos, album Melos.
Both the Yggy and Audiomat render the patio and cello and interplay between the two beautifully and the emotion of the song is easily conveyed. You can't help but be drawn into the song.  However, I find the Yggy digs deeper and has more authoritative bass and is as a result more involving.  With the Vivere and NuPrime there's not much in it where differences are concerned. Same thoughts as with the Yggy and Audiomat re rendering and emotion, but there's that hint of sharpness that's not present in the first two.

Violin & orchestra: Marianne Thorsen/TrondheimSolistene Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major K. 218
Performance via the Yggy has more presence than the Audiomat.  The Vivere is better at instrument separation than the NuPrime and has an overall sweeter sound.  I found the NuPrime occasionally shouty with this track.

Want to get through 7-8 more tracks, some of which I already listened to last night  Once done I'll summarise, but I think I already know the answer if forced to rank.  Of course, all meaningless without doing your own listening as these are my impressions and naturally based on my preferences iro audio reproduction.
Audiophile: There is almost no other group that prides themselves more on wasting good money on utterly worthless ****, and then trying to furiously blow smoke up their own ass to justify it.

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.

Offline kamikazi

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2017, 11:44:23 AM »
Thanks for your write-up RJ. Hope it's okay if I post some of my own thoughts here?

It's a bit tricky to find out which DAC chip the Audiomat is based on.. As far as I know the Tempo 2.7 was based on the PCM1794A, but I found some vague references in French that said it was now AKM, but without opening it I don't think one will know. At some stage I even thought there might be valves in there, but then somebody confused the higher end model with the Tempo. When you listen to classical music you can hear some elements of the Tempo's delta-sigma heritage coming through, but that strident nature becomes a little bit more apparent with strings and piano where I find the timbre to be a little bit off, but in all I was quite surprised at how natural and musical it was.

RJ, you have a very good neutral reference setup there with amazing sound stage and imaging capabilities so it would be nice to hear your thoughts on that. I was quite impressed with the Vivere's staging capabilities, especially depth and the NuPrime in comparison seemed a little strange through focusing more on height than width and depth (though it worked well for headphone listening), but the sharp/shouty nature made it fatiguing to listen to (especially with headphones). The Audiomat seemed to throw quite a nice width on the sound stage. The staging on the Theta I found quite natural, but it's not really anything exceptional.

FWIW my rankings would be like this (If the Yggy is better than the Theta Gen V it would probably inch ahead of the Audiomat):
Audiomat > [from memory->] Vivere = Theta Gen III > NuPrime DAC-10 > RL Concero = [based on memory->] Audiolab M-DAC, Rega DAC > Ps Audio NuWave

These latest DACs also had very good USB implementations which was great to see (I prefer Amanero over most XMOS I've heard so far), for the old Theta I used the Concero as a transport. The differences between DACs become even more difficult to spot when you level match them closely which was quite easy to do with the NuPrime DAC-10H when you use it as a PRE. It was a bit disconcerting for me that I struggled to tell apart the NuPrime and Concero with blind testing, so it is definitely hard and takes a lot of time to become familiar with equipment. The Concero in particular sounds smoother and cleaner when you use a dedicated power supply with it. Powering it directly from the USB port it is a lot more unrefined and easier to tell apart. The DAC-10H extracts a bit more detail and is more extended, but the overall ESS signature is quite similar.

The NuPrime DAC-10H is actually a very nice and flexible preamp and if they could address some of the issues with the DAC section, it would be quite a killer unit. As it stands it reaffirms my opinion that integrated DAC/PREs aren't such a great idea as it's always a case of form over function. As it stands it is a bit pricey if you want to use it either as a DAC or a dedicated PRE, and I'd be more inclined to use it for the latter. The IDA-16 to me is a better product as the sum of it's parts work better together to deliver a good sounding and more compelling product. The Audiomat was quite a surprise and I really enjoyed it and if I owned a SE only setup or a SET amp it would be very high on my list. And... definitely have to demo Yggy at some stage...
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 11:47:28 AM by kamikazi »

Offline pwatts

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2017, 12:17:29 PM »
Very interesting feedback from a technology perspective. Audiomat seems to focus on using exotic components, using Clarity caps even for PSU bypassing, and a discrete output stage. Otherwise there is polymer electrolytics, Dale resistors and zero surface mount parts.

A bit of image searching to find the PCB bottom showed the Audiomat 2.7 using PCM1794A indeed, not even in dual-mono and without any proper power supply decoupling. PCM1794A is one of those DAC's that is easy to get to sound reasonably good, but for truly exceptional results it takes a lot of skill, experimentation and some luck.

ESS DAC's on the other hand, despite the high cost and excellent measurements can sound downright meh if implemented without proper care. There is a new version out, the ES9028 (and 9038), but the differences are not expected to be night and day. Got a sample on the way to evaluate in a test board.

The new AKM DAC's are the exciting bit. Reports have it that they go as good as Delta-Sigma allows and with less need for elaborate surrounding design.

Offline Nidri

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2017, 12:25:10 PM »
Would love to know how the PCM1704K-equipped Aqua La Scala Mk II would fare in this company.
Wonder if Air doesn't have a demo unit?

Offline gavinbirss

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Re: Audiomat Tempo 2.8 & NuPrime DAC-10H
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2017, 02:06:23 PM »
Very interesting feedback from a technology perspective. Audiomat seems to focus on using exotic components, using Clarity caps even for PSU bypassing, and a discrete output stage. Otherwise there is polymer electrolytics, Dale resistors and zero surface mount parts.

A bit of image searching to find the PCB bottom showed the Audiomat 2.7 using PCM1794A indeed, not even in dual-mono and without any proper power supply decoupling. PCM1794A is one of those DAC's that is easy to get to sound reasonably good, but for truly exceptional results it takes a lot of skill, experimentation and some luck.

ESS DAC's on the other hand, despite the high cost and excellent measurements can sound downright meh if implemented without proper care. There is a new version out, the ES9028 (and 9038), but the differences are not expected to be night and day. Got a sample on the way to evaluate in a test board.

The new AKM DAC's are the exciting bit. Reports have it that they go as good as Delta-Sigma allows and with less need for elaborate surrounding design.

@pwatts
You are getting a sample board of the 9028 or 9038PRO? Going to use 768K XMOS USB-2-i2s?

The differential current drive output of 9038 is equal to four 9018S's....

Quote
The DAC direct differential current output is 4x more than ES9018S/ES9028PRO, for easier understanding ES9038PRO is equal to "four ES9018S in parallel" plus more advanced features.